New Year, New You

New year, new you.  Whether this will be your first attempt at a new resolution or your tenth at an old one, I applaud you.

Ultimately, whatever your resolution, I want to encourage you to be strong and do the work!  But, me being a fitness and nutrition coach, and this being a fan page of a fitness and nutrition coach, I’m gonna address, well, fitness and nutrition.  And though this post is targeted toward fitness and nutrition, the principles that lie within can apply to any area of one’s life.

Okay, it’s your first day back in the gym in some time.  Or maybe it’s your first time in the gym, ever (high five!).  What do you do?  Don’t know?  Don’t worry, I’ll tell you.

First, go over to the bench press.  See the bar?  Great.  You see those big round weights with “45” on it?  Put one on each side.  Clank!  Awesome.  Now, grab the plate (that’s what we call these kinda weights) that has the “35” on it.  Put it on.  Clank!  Excellent.  Finish by putting one of each of the remaining weights (25, 10, 5, 2.5) on each side of the bar.  Clank!  Clank!  Clank!  Clink!  You’ve stacked 245 pounds on a 45-pound bar.  There, now you’re ready.  Ready for what?  To lift it, of course, silly!

Get under it.  Yeah, under it.  Go ‘head and lift it from the rack.  Lower it.  Now, UP!  Wait.  What?  You can’t move it?  C’mon.  Try harder.  Less talky, more work-y.  Try harder!  Shut up and lift, dang it!  TRY HARDER!

Alright, lesson over.  You obviously couldn’t lift 290 pounds.

I know what you’re thinking (other than I’m a terrible trainer).  We should’ve started with a lot less weight—maybe just the bar—and worked up to a heavier weight, incrementally, adding 5-10 pounds each week.

At that rate, how long would it take to lift the two-ninety?  If my math is correct, and gains were linear, it’d take about a year.  Does that make more sense, though, rather than loading up the bar with 290 pounds on Day One?

Yes?  Then why the heck do we approach our nutrition any differently?! Why do begin a nutrition program (or, gulp, a D-I-E-T) by loading the hypothetical bar with all the weights in the gym?

“I’m gonna eat from the rainbow. Clank! I’m gonna replace grains with greens. Clank! I’m gonna keep from consuming sugar, dairy, or gluten. Clank! I’m gonna eat with chopsticks . . . in my non-dominant hand. Clank! I’m gonna abstain from eating animals that walk on all four legs. Clank! I’m gonna stop having any fun. Clank! I’m gonna, I’m gonna, I’m gonna. Clank! Clank! Clank!

Too much?  Too tough?  Well, just try harder.  Try harder!  TRY HARDER!

It’s not about trying harder, it’s about training better.  No matter how hard you try, if you put too much weight on the bar, you won’t be able to lift it.  Likewise, if you take on too many dietary changes at one time, no matter how hard you try, you won’t be able to do it.

Like strengthening your muscles, you must strengthen your nutritional habits, slowly. If you try to change your diet too much, too soon, no matter how hard you try, the “weight” of all those changes will crush you.  But if you train incrementally, doing a little bit more, a little bit better, and show up consistently, you will get stronger.

I wanna encourage you to “start with the bar”.  Pick just one thing you know you can do to improve your nutrition and do it, consistently.  After you’ve strengthened that habit, add another.  And another.  And another.  After a while, it won’t be dietary habits crushing you—you’ll be crushing them.  And next year, when you’re moving, feeling, and looking better than ever, you can pick a new resolution to accomplish!

Question: How many times have you said you do better with “more”, i.e., making many dietary changes at once, only to do “less”, i.e., quit entirely on your “diet”?